Artistic Practice & the Medical Museum (London, 6 Jun 14)

MacRae Gallery, Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, June 6, 2014
Registration deadline: Jun 6, 2014

Collect, Exchange, Display: Artistic Practice and the Medical Museum

For hundreds of years, medical collections have been sites of medical and artistic exchange. Not only were many of their contents created by artists and physicians, but the collections were also often compiled by doctors, who were themselves artistes-manqués. Although medical museums have recently received attention in museological and historical studies, they remain relatively ignored within art historical scholarship.

This international conference will look at the anatomical, pathological or medical museum from the perspectives of art history and visual culture. Artists have utilised these spaces for the study of anatomy and pathology–as well as for ideas and inspiration–but what do we know about the artists, photographers and craftsmen and women who have worked within the museum? How can we theorise the collecting practices of the doctors who founded and/or ran these museums? What role did these spaces and their contents have on artistic practice, visual representation and the writing of art and medical histories? How does the medical museum continue to play a role in contemporary art-making and medical learning? From the wax modelers to the commissioning physicians to the painters and sculptors who were inspired by its contents, this conference will spark a dialogue about the artistry of the medical museum.

The keynote speaker will be Christine Borland, Baltic Professor of Contemporary Art at Northumbria University.

For more information, including the full programme, please visit:

This conference is now sold out; to add yourself to the waitlist, please visit:

This conference has been organized by Dr Mary Hunter?from McGill University and Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gómez from the University of Essex. It has been generously funded by the Wellcome Trust.


10:00-10:20 AM – Registration

10:20-10:30 AM – Welcome: Mary Hunter and Natasha Ruiz-Gómez

10:30-11:30 AM – Specimens

Chair: Mechthild Fend


Cindy Stelmackowich: ‘The Most Beautiful Norm as it was Imagined to Exist in Life’: Artistic ‘Perfection’ and Gottingen University’s Enlightened ‘Academic Museum’

Gianna Bouchard: The Pain of Specimenhood: An Ethics of Care

11:30-12 PM – Break

12 -1 PM – Artistic Engagements

Chair: Tania Woloshyn


Lisa Temple-Cox and Glenn Harcourt: The Dying of the Light: Art Seeking Self in the Anatomy Museum

Lise Patt: ‘Only Artists or Fools Need Apply’: Teachings from the ‘Unlearnable’ Spaces of the Narrenturm in Vienna

1-2 PM – Lunch

2-3:30 PM – Anatomy and Artistry

Chair: Rebecca Wade


Fae Brauer: Dangerous Doubles: Paul Richer’s Museums of Pathological Sculpture and ‘Nouvelle Anatomie Artistique’

Manuel Valente Alves: Anatomical Drawings collection of the Museum of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon

Lucy Lyons: Drawing Encounters with Pathology

3:30-4 PM – Break

4-5 PM – Spaces and Interactions

Chair: Samuel Alberti


Annmarie Adams: Designing the Medical Museum, 1872-1940

Jane Ruck: Whakaaro Pai – facilitating multi-disciplinary research in a spirit of ‘investigative wonderment’

5-5:15 PM – Break

5:15-6:15 PM – Keynote

Christine Borland: ‘Circles of Focus’: A collaborative visual art project (with Brody Condon) on body donation for creative and artistic research

6:15 PM – Reception

CONF: Artistic Practice & the Medical Museum (London, 6 Jun 14). In:, May 28, 2014 (accessed Nov 23, 2020), <>.

Contributor: Natasha Ruiz-Gomez, University of Essex

Contribution published: May 28, 2014

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